Because some of you have trouble coming up with words to call people you don’t like besides ‘psycho’ and ‘messed up in the head’, have a Shakespeare Insult Kit I found on Google Images. Or if you just like to call people weird things.
Unpopular Opinion: in RWBY, Adam Taurus would have been a much more compelling villain if, instead of being ‘stereotypical abusive ex that slices people’, he was written more like Bismuth from Steven Universe.
AKA a fanatical loose cannon that damages the very cause he fights for, believes war crimes and atrocities are justified ‘for the sake of our cause’ and is ready to kill his own allies over ideological purity.
THAT would have made Blake’s “i saw another one i loved turn into a monster” speech much more believable.
It’s the oxymoron that attracts us. Billowing black
cape, terrifying worldviews, a willingness to make the streets run red with
blood – and you know what would be hilarious? Them trying and failing to make
morning pancakes. You know what would really hit us in the feels? Watching them
show tenderness around a special someone.
Having a villain with a domestic side is lassoing a black
hole, and it’s a tantalizing thing to watch. However, anyone who’s indulged in
these daydreams with their own villains has probably encountered one very
specific issue: it makes them less evil. They lose their edge.
For example, look at Crowley from CW’s Supernatural. This was a guy to be feared at one point; arriving out
of nowhere at unexpected times, always playing both sides of the conflict, and
you could be certain he would skin anyone necessary to get what he wanted –
usually without getting a single drop of blood on his impeccable suit.
Flash forward to recent seasons, and we’ve seen Crowley cry
and whimper more times than Dean has died –which is saying something. At first,
it was fascinating to discover this powerful character actually had a tender
side; and now, when Crowley makes a threat, we’re about as afraid as when any
low-level demon makes one. This is because his evil was too compromised. He let
How can we avoid this mistake with our villains? The answer
isn’t making them crush puppies and hate butterflies at every turn; it’s in
balancing their core scariness with their softer side – giving them complexity,
giving us a bit of “aww,” and making their eventual whiplash back into
‘terrifying’ all the more wonderful.
For this, we’re going to use Epic
of Lilith by Ivars Ozols as an
example. This book centers on arguably the original female villain – Lilith,
the first woman of the Garden of Eden, who got on the “good guys’” bad side by
refusing to submit to someone who was clearly her equal. There won’t be any
spoilers below, but if you give the book a read (it’s an easy page turner), the
points will be driven home stronger.
Plus it’s a book with a great female villain who isn’t
objectified (don’t let the cover fool you, seriously) and prose that isn’t full
of sexual over- or undertones. Talk about a win, eh?
Hm. Let’s talk about Villains and Reality vs Fiction.
Art often reflects a version of reality,
but like a fun house mirror
we understand the truth.
Children understand early on that they will never be a mermaid or a princess. That’s why when you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they’ll say “DOCTOR!” or “SINGER” or FIREFIGHTER!” If they ever do say “I want to be Darth Vader!” We can all safety assume this child isn’t actually planning on growing up to slice off his son’s hand and rule a galaxy. The kid knows they can’t actually be Darth Vader, but they admire Vader’s cool looks, his authority, the awesome one-liners. A child knows. Children are not stupid. Now, as adults (I hope) we also see the difference between reality and fiction… you know, like we see the difference in good and bad? We can imagine crazy things and insane dramas and read and write about whatever we’d like, but once the book is closed and the movie is turned off people know what they know and do what they do and LIVE their lives with that underlying common law of what is Good. Once in a while, you will have that disturbed mind that will take something like The Joker and misuse him as an excuse to do heinous things, but people are generally good.
So we are allowed to enjoy a story like Jane Eyre, like Suicide Squad, like Star Wars. We are allowed to enjoy the ups, downs, horrors and triumphs of characters like Kylo Ren. We can think Kilgrave from Jessica Jones is charismatic and fun to watch. We can completely adore Loki from Thor.
THESE THINGS ARE OK
Because the line between fiction and reality is a lot thicker than some people on tumblr are making it out to be.